Wednesday, 10 May 2017

γ | gamma

The Greek letter γ (gamma) was derived from the ancient Phoenician letter 𐤂 (gīml). One theory says that it represented a throwing stick, another links it to (an image of) a camel.

The lower-case letter γ has a number of uses in maths and sciences, for example:

  • in astronomy: the third brightest star in a constellation. For instance, Bellatrix is designated as γ Orionis.
  • in inorganic chemistry: a symbol for certain allotropes, for example γ-iron (austenite) or γ-sulfur
  • in mathematics: the Euler—Mascheroni constant, a mathematical constant with approximate value of 0.57721
  • in organic chemistry: γ-carbon, the third carbon atom in a chain when counting from a functional group. The names such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) make use of this nomenclature.
  • in neurophysiology: γ-waves, a type of brain waves detected by electroencephalography
  • in phonetics: voiced velar fricative (IPA symbol ɣ)
  • in physics: γ is the symbol for a photon, probably derived from γ-rays or γ-radiation, a kind of electromagnetic radiation arising from the radioactive decay (γ-decay)
  • in special relativity: Lorentz factor
More photos of letters, numbers and sea glass @ Shutterstock.

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